Why Effective Teachers Have Minimal Classroom Problems

Effective classroom teachers tend to have strengths in classroom management efforts. Teachers who know how to manage their classrooms create an effective environment that is conducive to educating students. The challenge for some teachers is knowing how to organize their classrooms so they have minimal behavior problems. In college, teachers are generally taught how to put together a discipline plan for their classrooms; this plan is supposed to resolve any behavior problems in their classrooms. We know that effective classrooms require more, and teachers who are successful end up creating a classroom environment that is caring, thought-provoking, challenging, and exciting. These classrooms serve as examples of how effective teachers run their classes.

One strategy these teachers use begins on the first day of school. Veteran teachers have learned that how they start the year off will determine the success of their classes for the entire school year. Initiating classroom procedures on the first day of school helps the teachers acclimate students to a well-managed classroom immediately. The sooner students can begin positive routines, the greater the chance that the teacher will run an effective classroom for the rest of the year. Moreover, student achievement is directly related to effective classroom management.

It is imperative for teachers to implement classroom procedures to which students should adhere at all times. These procedures serve as expectations for the students and should include what happens at the beginning of class, how to quiet the class, what to do if students need help, what kind of movement is allowed by students, and what happens at the end of class. Every successful classroom should have these few basic procedures. Additional important procedures include what students should do when they need to get supplies, turn in papers, respond to the fire alarm, behave when dismissed from class, and what to do when they are tardy or absent.

To help teachers become organized, they should identify a location within the room where they post classroom procedures. They should also provide a location within the room to post rules, schedules, and the calendar. Organized teachers also have assignments for the day posted in the same location for consistency, and some teachers require students to come into class and immediately begin working on their “do-now” assignments. This helps students get involved immediately, which sets the tone for the class.

Teachers can get support for their classroom procedures by sending a letter of introduction home with students and including a copy of the classroom procedures for the parents to review. This is a great way to start developing that all-important relationship with parents. Additional information to send to parents includes an academic action plan or syllabus for the semester. Students have a tendency to behave better when the teacher has developed a relationship with their parents.

In addition to classroom procedures, successful teachers have well-managed classrooms that are student centered; they are conducive to students’ collaboration and enable students to feel as if they are a part of the class. Student-centered classrooms generally have special seating arrangements so classmates can share throughout the day. In addition, student-centered classrooms provide students with options for projects and assignments. Students in these classrooms spend a lot of time working on group assignments, which helps students become confident in working with people. Student-centered classrooms also bring students closer together, which should lead to greater student achievement and fewer classroom problems. This strategy helps teachers successfully organize their classrooms, which is an excellent classroom management technique.

To add to the success of these classrooms, teachers should incorporate activities that are meaningful and engaging for their students. This will keep students interested, which is critical in successful classrooms. Students need to feel that they are part of the class and that the material they are learning is important. When students demonstrate that they understand these lessons and are invited to provide feedback about them, it contributes to the success of the class. Teachers can enhance such success by encouraging students to participate and celebrating their successes whenever possible. Some teachers celebrate with verbal praise, some with written acknowledgment, and some by posting students’ works throughout the classroom.

This entire process promotes efforts to establish positive teacher-student relationships. When students form close relationships with their teachers, they feel a sense of belonging, which is a critical factor in effective classroom management. In summary, teachers who effectively manage their classrooms demonstrate a positive attitude, treat students fairly, are caring, have high expectations for students, know students’ needs, are organized and prepared, and provide meaningful and engaging lessons.

What Should Be on the Tombstone of Gifted Education? Part 3: Classroom Activities for Gifted Student

In Part 2 of the series, the distribution of gifted programs in school districts was analyzed in terms of the allocation of this resource within a school district. In the vast majority of school districts, gifted students are segregated in dedicated facilities in which they have to apply for entry. While this method has advantages for both children and adults in the c=school setting, the major disadvantage is that students who are truly gifted or highly motivated are filtered out by a variety of statistical factors such as test scores, grades, and age. Not only are statistical factors used but having a dedicated facility opens up the possibility of filtering based on human factors such as race, culture, and gender issues. The best option is to have gifted programs in each school so that many more students who are capable will have the access they need to gifted resources.

One of the worsening factors of modern gifted education is the level and quality of classroom activities available for these students. The modern classroom is not geared toward gifted students but rather to the middle student who is perched on the edge of passing the state test. The second priority in the classroom is the lowest student who contributes to the failing rate of state tests. It is assumed that gifted students will pass state exams so they are at the bottom of the school’s priorities. For those teachers that are allowed to design their own materials, this forces them into a teaching mode that focuses on the middle and low-level students and to virtually ignore gifted or highly motivated students. Since most school districts force teachers to use their materials, the district itself sets the stage for ignoring the needs of the gifted student.

In terms of the individual classroom assignment, gifted students require a higher quality set of goals and objectives to meet. Most assignments are geared toward a lower quality set of objectives which hinge of meeting goals based on lower-level thinking skills. The majority of students are operating at the knowledge, comprehension, and application levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. This forces the assignment created by the teacher or district to be based on simple modes of vocabulary mastery and simple application to prescribed situations. Once this is done, the students and teachers move on to the next assignment. The gifted child, who is in need of further learning at higher levels, is left with an experience that only marginally stimulates their higher potential.

The assignments that are provided to gifted children are not properly designed for their educational needs. They are designed for students who are working at much lower levels on a daily basis. Gifted students require assignment and activities that stimulate their natural abilities to a much higher level of thinking. This is not to say that lower level assignments do not have value to the gifted student, but if the teacher stops at this point, then the gifted child to left with unfulfilled potential.

Coming up: Part 4- The Use of Extracurricular Activities as a Method of Fulfilling Potential.

Effective Classroom Management Tips and Tricks

Effective classroom management strategies can ensure a pleasant teaching environment for the entire year. Conversely, poor classroom management may lead to a difficult class and a year that drags on. These tips will get you well on your way to creating a positive environment in your classroom.

Post class rules

Students need to know what is expected of them from the very beginning. It is also useful to have visuals of the rules so that you can redirect small misbehavior problems by pointing at the appropriate rule poster. Since I have very little artistic talent I had my students create the posters for me. We went over the rules the first day of class and I had students each create a poster for two rules. We displayed all the posters for the first week. I later had the students vote on a single poster for each rule to leave up.

Post consequences

Students may occasionally break a rule. It is important that you have established a procedure for dealing with infractions. The consequences must be appropriate and clear so the student knows what to expect. Go over all consequences at the beginning of the school year and review if necessary.

Model appropriate behavior.

Since one of my rules is to respect everyone in the classroom, I make sure to be respectful to my students. Remember that you as the teacher must set the example. It will be difficult to get the students to follow your rules if you make exceptions for other students or yourself. If you also follow the rules it shows that they are important and will allow your classroom to feel like a community. Also be sure to thank your students when appropriate; we all like to be appreciated.

Develop a routine for beginning your class

Students often misbehave when they are bored or frustrated. You can prevent some of this boredom by beginning class immediately and in a predictable fashion. Students like to know what to expect. I prefer to begin immediately after the bell rings so students know that our class time is valuable. Try to avoid beginning with verbally taking roll as students will become distracted and talk amongst themselves during this time. Since my school requires roll to be taken within the first five minutes of class I take roll silently while the students work on a warm-up opening activity.

Write a daily schedule on the board so students can see what is coming next. Having a visual guide to the class time will help the students make transitions between activities. A visual schedule will also prevent some questions about what time is break and “how long do we have to do this?”

Activities

Plan more activities than you think you’ll have time for and always have a back-up plan. Most behavior problems occur when students get bored. Be sure you have engaging lessons to prevent this for most students. Also keep in mind that overhead-bulbs die and other technical issues happen so be sure that the lesson can go on even if something goes wrong.

Prepare engaging enrichment activities for the students that finish early. No matter how much you plan, sometimes students will still finish early. You will want to be sure that activities that these students will enjoy are available. When I plan units, I include extra activities that could be used for these situations. Silent reading is also a good option as reading is always valuable. This could be a book of the student’s choice or a book you provide.

Reward good behavior

Many students are eager to please and will appreciate their good efforts. Small rewards also work wonders. I use “Thank You Tickets” to thank the students for good behavior and appropriate class participation. These tickets can be traded for small prizes such as candy, pencils, or homework passes.

Be fair

Since your rules and the consequences are clearly posted it will be easy to enforce them the same for everyone. It will also be very obvious if you make exceptions for any one student. This will cause you to lose respect from all of the students and will make it difficult to manage your class. Be sure the rules are the same for everyone in the classroom. Also be sure to avoid confrontations with any students. Singling out one student will make that student confrontational and will likely distract your entire class. It is best to deal with behavior problems privately.

Use a seating chart

At the beginning of the year, you will definitely want a seating chart while learning the students’ names. Seating charts also help a substitute or classroom visitor as students respond better when the teacher knows and uses their names. At the beginning of the year I create a random seating chart by numbering desks and creating a set of index cards with matching numbers. I give students a card as they walk in and that is the assigned seating chart for the first week. It is also important to change this chart once you know the students as some students will need to be moved or separated. I find it helpful to change the seating several times a year to keep things interesting. Depending on your class, you could also offer to let them choose their own seats if they behave well for a set amount of time.

Teacher Tips: Dealing With Impulsive Behaviors From ADHD Students in the Classroom

Thank you to all of our professional educators who dedicate themselves to our children! We know how difficult it can be working with ADHD children, so here are your teacher tips for the week, brought to you by the ADHD Information Library and ADDinSchool.com. This is a sampling of over 500 classroom interventions for your use at http://www.ADDinSchool.com. Here are some tips on Dealing with Impulsive Behaviors: One of the hallmarks of children with attention deficits is the tendency to act impulsively (acting before thinking through the ramifications of behavior). Behaviorally, this manifests itself in a lack of understanding of cause and effect. Research also suggests that these students can often verbalize the rules in place for behavior but have difficulty internalizing them and translating them into thoughtful behavior. Difficulties in delaying gratification also add to the impulsivity. Some clinicians believe that this behavioral disinhibition (poor regulation and inhibition of behavior), rather than their ability to pay attention, is the primary manifestation of attention deficits and is more likely to discriminate these children from others.

By having students think “out loud” when they are problem-solving, the teacher will gain insights into their reasoning style and the process will slow them down before they respond impulsively. This will provide information about how they “see the world” and enable the teacher to begin to restructure inaccurate perceptions. Train your student’s teachers and other adults how to do this to provide an on-going technique in the classroom setting, where critical incidents often occur. Quite often, students will continue to have difficulty with certain types of interactions on a regular basis; difficulty in taking turns, over-interpreting others’ remarks as hostile, personalizing others’ actions excessively, and misreading social cues. With the help of your student, his teacher, and his trusted peers, common problematic themes can be identified. Role play hypothetical interactions involving these behaviors, preferably with supportive peers, identifying and practicing positive alternative responses.

Have your student practice these responses during the school day and have him and others give you feedback on their success. Identifying critical incidents that occur during the day will provide insights for program planning. The technique of “Stop-Think-Talk-Do” is central to many cognitive-behavioral interventions for students with attentional teaches the student how to “stop” before acting impulsively, “think” about the cause and effect relationships of his intended behavior, “say” or verbalize to themselves or others what they will do, and “do” the chosen behavior. Again, the purpose of the technique is to slow down response. Encourage thoughtful responding and decrease impulsivity by waiting 10 to 15 seconds to receive responses during whole group instruction. Keep the classroom behavior rules simple and clear. Have the class agree on what the rules should be. Define and review classroom rules each day. Implement a classroom behavior management system. Actively reinforce desired classroom behaviors. Use self-monitoring and self-reinforcement on-task behavior during independent work time. Use a kitchen timer to indicate periods of intense independent word and reinforce the class for appropriate behavior during this period. Start with brief periods (5 to 10 minutes) and gradually increase the period as the class demonstrates success. When necessary, develop contracts with an individual student and her/his parents to reinforce a few specific behaviors. Set hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly goals depending on the reinforcement needs of the specific student. Provide frequent feedback on the student’s progress toward these goals. Provide a changing array of backup rewards or privileges so that students do not “burn out” on a particular system. For example, students can earn tickets for a daily or weekly raffle for the display of positive behavior.

To improve out of the classroom behavior, allow the class to earn a reward based on he compliments they receive on their behavior from other teachers, lunchroom staff, playground aides and principals. Avoid giving the whole class negative consequences based on the ADHD child’s behavior. The ADHD child, as well as the whole class, can benefit from implementation of social skills curriculum for the entire class. Modeling and requiring the children to use a systematic method of talking through classroom conflicts and problems can be particularly valuable for the ADHD child to implement this, teachers are referred to the literature on cognitive-behavioral approaches to developing the child’s self-talk and problem solving. Praise specific behaviors. For example, “I like how you wrote down all your assignments correctly,” rather than “Good boy!” Use visual and auditory cues as behavioral reminders. For example, have two large jars at the front of the room, with one filled with marbles or some other object. When the class is behaving appropriately, move some marbles to the other jar and let the students know that when the empty jar is filled they can earn a reward. Frequently move about the room so that you can maximize you degree of proximity control. When appropriate, give students choices about several different activities that could choose to work on one at a time. With students who can be quite volatile and may initially refuse negative consequences (such as refusing to go to time-out), set a kitchen timer for a brief period (1 to 2 minutes) after refusal has occurred. Explain to the child that the child can use the two minutes to decide if she/he will go to time out on her/his own or if more serious consequence must be imposed. Several experienced teachers insist this method has successfully reduced the extent to which they have had to physically enforce certain negative consequences with students and seems to de-escalate the situation. Hopefully these will help the ADHD students in your classroom to be more successful. You can learn more about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder at the ADHD Information Library.

New Teacher Tips – How to Use Correct Classroom Color Choices

In fashion, some colors are always in style. Other colors come and go. The color of a classroom can greatly affect students and how well they absorb material or, to put it in a nutshell – their learning. Past and ongoing research corroborates the fact that certain lighter colors are more preferable than particular darker colors.

Sinofsky and Knirck (1981) found that color affect student attitudes, behaviors and learning. Among their previous research, they include reasons for using brighter colors which can affect a student’s attention span and the student’s and teacher’s sense of time.

Use Light Green Colors as opposed to Bolder Ones

In nature, green reappears in spring, after a dull and colorless winter. But during the dormant winter months in the classroom, a light shade of warm teal green is reenergizing and acts as a gentle reminder of spring to come, making the middle semester (the coldest one) more bearable, interesting and creates a calm learning atmosphere. It can also filter negativity, put the students and teachers at ease and into a positive state of mind.

Another Effective Light Color – Blue

Blue is the color of water and the sea and it represents life. For this reason, lighter shades of blue help calm students especially those with ADHD and ADD. It can also reduce the number of behavior outbursts and discipline problems facilitating perhaps with classroom management on a creative level.

In the Western culture, blue symbolizes loyalty and authority while it also symbolizes strength and power in the Eastern culture. These are qualities which students want to feel the teachers have on a global level.

Other classroom research findings:

  1. Bross and Jackson (1981) declared that colors liked by students influenced their muscular tension and motor control (Poyser, 1983)
  2. Colors can also affect memory and the brain’s capacity to retain more information.
  3. Wohlfarth (1986) and Sydoriak (1987) associated warm colors with slight elevations in blood pressure in children while cooler colors caused slight drops in blood pressure (Hathaway, 1988).

Over to You – Making Correct Classroom Color Choices

Take inventory of your students at the beginning of the year. It would make sense to gather as much information as you can about your students, making notes on the behaviorial limitations, special learning needs and other learning styles. in light of this, see if you can paint the classroom a lighter shade of green and blue. Compare the differences in the students learning. How have they changed?

Works Cited

Hathaway, W.E. (1988). Educational facilities: Neutral with respect to learning and human performance. CEFPI Journal, 26(4), 8-12.

Poyser, L.R. (1983). An examination of the classroom physical environment. South Bend: Indiana University. (ERIC Document Reproduction Services No. ED251954).

Sinofsky, E.R. & Knirck, F.G. (1981). Choose the right color for your learning style. Instructional Innovator, 26(3), 17-19.